Great Victorian Bike Ride 2014 Blog

Part 2- training and the 60% rule

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

a group of cyclists ride along the road together


I first came across the 60% rule back in my running days. One thing had led to another in the sport – and I soon found myself staring down the barrel of a 100km epic trail run. It was beyond anything I had ever prepared for, and I had no idea how to prepare for it – mentally or physically.

In the past whenever I was training for an event, the approach was simple. If it was a 100m swim, you simply simulated 100m swims or training for a triathlon meant actually training for each of the distances. But this was different. There was no way I would be going through the torture of a 100km trail run more than once – and certainly not when preparing for the event!

On a training run one night with some friends, we were joined by one of the parents – a multiple-marathon finisher. As we crunched along the gravel path (me gasping, him effortless) I tried to find topics that would result in him doing the talking – leaving me to focus on sucking in those deep breaths. We got chatting about marathons – and how he got his head around them.

“It’s really quite simple,” he explained. “You’ll only do yourself damage trying to prepare for an event by replicating the distance. It’s about technique, mental preparation, and the 60% rule”. I knew that my technique lacked form – and I had been told that half the battle was going to be upstairs – but what on earth was the 60% rule? 

There are moments when you know you are about to receive a pearl of wisdom – and this one has guided my preparation ever since. “The 60% rule is simple. All of your training – as you slowly build up distance, stamina and strength should peak two weeks from the event with a training effort equal to 60% of the distance (and I’d later apply it to time, elevation – basically any metric you like). From there, take a taper week – keep things ticking over – but don’t push yourself. If you can comfortably complete 60% in your training, then you will be fine on the event day”.

As it turns out, it really was a pearl. I applied the technique to other sports – and it worked. Distances and elevations that felt daunting – simply got broken down into a 60% training effort. I knew that if I could do that, I’d be ok on the day.

Training groups for Around the Bay in a Day, we took the 60% approach. The goal was to ride 30km for our 50km event participants, 60km for the 100km riders, and 130km for the 210km riders. Year after year, and with ever increasing groups it still hit the mark, and helped these riders in the same way it had helped me.

The RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride is a series of mini events held back-to back. We’ll go through planning for a multi-day ride another day, but for the moment as part of your preparation I would highly recommend looking at working up in your training to comfortably ride 60% of two days in a row.

The two longest days are Day 3, 95km and Day 4, 107km. Using the 60% rule my recommendation would be to attempt to build your training to the point where you can ride 2x 60km days back-to-back before the event. It’s certainly not essential, but if you can get to that point, you will be ready to tackle the 610km that the Great Ocean Road is going to throw us!

Written by Andy
October 30, 2013